20 Things I Did In 2016 That I’d Never Done Before

At the beginning of each new year, I always write a bunch of posts recapping the previous year. Apart from the annual post containing my New Year’s resolutions, most of them usually have something to do with books.

Last year, though, I tried something new, based on an idea I got from Boquinha and Dr. Mark @ Sushi and Pizza. They each published “year in review”-type posts that included the question, “What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?” and I decided to answer that question on my own blog.

Now it’s time to do so again, this time for 2016.

This time WITH PICTURES because last time I didn’t include any and I think it’s just as much fun to see my year in review as it is to read and write about it.


1. Wrote a “___ things I did in ____ that I’d never done before” post

OH HUSH. THIS TOTALLY COUNTS. I think this is a really positive way of looking back at the year before. Obviously, not all “firsts” are good, but trying to come up with answers to the question of, “What did you do last year that you’d never done before?” helps me to see past all the bad stuff that happened in 2016: Some good things happened too.

2. Watched an LGBTQ+ film in theaters

Between Orlando and the presidential election, 2016 often felt like a terrifying and discouraging year to be gay. One bright spot was seeing Carol IN AN ACTUAL THEATER, which is so not something I ever did as a kid or teen! Here’s to hoping that more happy LGBTQ+ movies hit the mainstream in the days to come.

3. Watched Les Misérables

I still have yet to read the book, although doing so is mentioned on the bucket list I created on my twentieth birthday! I watched the 2012 movie adaptation with some friends and now I have even more fictional characters to be super emotional about. And more amazing music that makes me cry.

4. Caucused 

Caucusing was incredibly noisy and crowded, two things that stress me out as an anxious, introverted person – but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Iowa is the first state in the nation to hold a presidential primary and since I have no idea where I’ll be living when the next election comes around, of course I had to take part. I went there with a bunch of my friends and it was so much fun!

5. Sought out mental health help

I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, and OCD throughout my life, particularly during these past four years. In February I started going to the University Counseling Services at my school, which has helped immensely. Since then I’ve been more or less continuously involved in either individual or group therapy. I also tried psychiatric meds for the first time this summer, although I haven’t found any that work yet. (Mostly they just made me unable to sleep. Ew.) I also told my family about the trouble I’ve been having, which was a HUGE step toward getting better. I hope.

selfie-with-roxane-gay6. Met one of my favorite authors

Actually, I met several! The first was Alison Bechdel in April, followed by Roxane Gay and Rick Riordan at the Iowa City Book Festival in October, and finally Lois Lowry in November. I’m so grateful to live in such a literary place as Iowa City!

fun home - signed copy7. Attended a book signing

Again, I went to several of these! I got my copy of Fun Home autographed at the local comic book store and asked Roxane Gay to autograph Bad Feminist, one of my all-time favorite books, as well. Lois Lowry signed my well-worn and much-loved copies of The Giver and Number the Stars too!

(I also acquired an autographed copy of Riordan’s latest book, The Hammer of Thor, at his event, but that was pre-signed so I don’t quite think that counts. Still pretty cool, though.)

johnson county fair 20168. Spent the summer away from home

This was… interesting. On one hand, it was extremely difficult for me because very few of my friends remained in Iowa City over the summer, so I felt isolated and then depressed as a result of that isolation. It was frequently hard to find the motivation to keep up with the coursework in my summer classes, and I ended up sleeping during the day and staying up all night many times.

But on the other hand, I had an amazing roommate, Luísa, and together she and I and her friends had so many adventures. From watching movies under the stars at the park and eating many (probably way too many) ice cream cones to visiting the farmer’s market and going to the county fair, we made so many great memories. I really miss her! 

iowa city vigil for orlando9. Attended a candlelight vigil

The day after the Orlando shooting, I attended a vigil in downtown Iowa City. Naturally, I hope there won’t be very many more of these in my future because the existence of each one implies that something tragic has happened. But I would like to thank everyone who organized and attended this vigil for making it so special. Definitely an eye-opening moment as a young LGBTQ+ person.

2016 iowa city pride10. Went to a Pride parade

Only a few days after the vigil, I attended Iowa City Pride! The parade, although short, was so much fun to watch, and I enjoyed seeing everyone (and their dogs!) decked out in rainbows. Even got some rainbows painted on my face because I’M JUST THAT GAY.

summer 2016 acting class - production in progress sign11. Took an acting class

I dreamed of doing this for so long! Basic Acting (for non-majors) was one of the most demanding classes I’ve ever taken, but it was SO worth it. Everyone in the small class was very quiet at first, but by the end of the six-week course we were much more comfortable with one another and unafraid to give it our all when it came to scenes, acting games, et cetera.

haircut 7-18-1612. Cut my hair short

Probably the best decision I made in 2016! I donated the inches I chopped off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I adore having short hair because it’s so easy to take care of! I only wish I’d done it earlier, because I’d been debating whether or not to get it cut since I was about sixteen.

13. Skyped someone

This is in no way intended to be an advertisement for Skype, BTW… I just thought it should be included here because chatting with my friends is so much fun! I didn’t realize that a free version was even available so for the longest time I didn’t use Skype, but now I use it once a month or so to catch up with people. It’s the closest I can get to meeting my online friends face-to-face right now!

14. Used the Pomodoro technique

This reminded me that I need to use this method during the spring semester! I got really into time management/productivity stuff as a result of exploring studyblr so I thought I’d try this out. It makes it much easier to get things done despite my OCD because I stubbornly tell myself that I am NOT allowed to fall down the rabbit hole of my obsessive-compulsive thoughts until the next twenty-five minutes (or however much time is left) are up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, at least I tried!

15. Earned a C in a college class

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m PROUD of this or anything, but I can’t deny that the experience taught me a lot. I learned to ask for help. I learned that I need better time management skills. ( I may or may not have completed the entire final project in less than six hours the night before it was due. Oops.) I learned that sometimes it’s OK to let some things slide if doing so allows me to focus on other things: I got As in my other three summer classes. I decided that it was more important to earn a C in Shakespeare 400 and an A in Basic Acting, which I took concurrently with the Shakespeare course, than to earn Bs in both.

16. Watched anime

My roommate this year is SUPER into anime, so she introduced me to the genre this fall. We’ve been slooowly making our way through Ouran High School Host Club, which is cheesy AF and exactly what I need. It’s so lighthearted, silly, and short – perfect for quick study breaks. I like that some actual plot and character depth is beginning to come into the story, as well. I’m not totally sure what we’re going to watch after this, but I do have a few ideas.

17. Joined a writing group

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE IOWA WRITERS’ HOUSE. It’s an amazing community of writers from Iowa City and the surrounding area and I honestly don’t know how I lived without those people before! This is the first writing group I’ve ever been a part of and they’re so supportive. Writing doesn’t have to be lonely! I actually started working for the IWH as one of the co-leaders of the Rainbow Room, their LGBTQ+ fiction subgroup, and in the future I may help out with the Great Green Room, designed for authors and illustrators of children’s/middle grade/YA books as well!

18. Entered my twenties (!!!)

This was sooooo weird, let me tell you. I mean, I’m not a teenager anymore?! WHAT. Also, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and that I’m not qualified to be this old. Buuuut on the other hand the idea of starting a brand-new decade of my life is pretty cool!

19. Made a video

This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but I didn’t know how! Well, I finally learned how in the Intro to Multimedia Storytelling class I took this fall as part of my journalism major. I produced a feature story on my favorite indie bookstore in town, the Haunted Bookshop. I learned how to use Final Cut Pro X, which STRESSES ME TF OUT, but in the end creating it was a blast and I was so proud of what I’d made!

20. Voted in a presidential election

While I’ve voted before, I wasn’t old enough to vote in the 2012 presidential election… so I was really excited about this oneThe day of the election was RATHER DISTRESSING and I cried all night long as the results were announced on CNN, but let’s not focus on that: After all, I voted early! #IGuessImWithHer


What did you do for the first time in 2016?


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to 20 Things I Did In 2016 That I’d Never Done Before

  1. Heather says:

    I also left my teens (first and only time that’s going to happen, I suppose) and also voted in an election for the first time. This is something perhaps I should think about, because I generally do not like doing things for the first time, so I rarely keep track of when I do, because it is often miserable… Still. Yay for you doing first time things!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks! And same, doing new things often freaks me out too… so writing posts like this helps quite a bit because it forces me to spin things in a more positive light and talk about what I liked about the experience instead of just focusing on how anxious and stressed that moment made me feel!

  2. Short hair is the greatest! I’m growing mine long again, but I love how easy it is to take care of.

    Ouran Host Club is so funny! It’s my favorite anime series of the cutesy/comical genre. If you want more lighthearted silliness, check out Maid Sama and Special A.

    I also entered my twenties in 2016. So crazy. I feel like I should have my act together but I totally don’t, and that’s okay. And, because of my age, I was also able to vote in the presidential election. Which wasn’t actually as exciting as I thought it would be when I was a kid. :-/

    You accomplished a lot for the first time in 2016. Go you!

    • nevillegirl says:

      I’m growing mine out too! I got one last buzzcut and now I’m hoping to end up with a bob many months from now… but first it has to get past the awkward shaggy stage, lol.

      OK, I’ll put those on my “maybe” list! I think my roommate really wants to rewatch Yuri on Ice next, this time with me, but I could always use more anime recs. 🙂

      Right?! I still have no idea what I’m doing. Which is exhilarating half the time, and terrifying during the other half. Hopefully it’ll get easier, though! 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Love this post!! It’s so good to see what you’ve been up to, especially as I’ve been so absent from the blogosphere this year. Uni/college is hard, right? :’) AND YOUR HAIR LOOKS AMAZING OMG. I turn 20 this year and I am sooooo not ready haha.

    • nevillegirl says:


      Ahhh thank you so much! I have a buzzcut right now, lol. Buuut I’m probably going to try to grow it out to like a bob?!

      I don’t think any of us will ever be ready to adult. 😛

  4. themagicviolinist says:

    LES MIIIIIIS. I love that musical so much. Sometimes when I’m home alone I try to sing along to every single part in “One Day More.” It doesn’t usually work well, but it’s fun. I read the abridged version of the book this past year and loved it! 🙂 (Although Marius is shown as a little bit more of a dick when it comes to his attitude toward Valjean in the book, which I was disappointed about.)

    I’ve loved every acting class or theater camp I’ve ever done, which is really weird for me to think about, because I hate being the center of attention. But working as a group to pull a story together like that is really fun (even if I hate the auditioning part).

    I’m super proud of you for learning what’s best for your mental health! That can’t have been easy, but I’m glad you’re making progress. 🙂

    We definitely need to Skype again. I had so much fun last time.

    Isn’t it great to have a writer’s group?! I have a regular critique group I go to every month and it’s been so incredibly helpful in that I get different perspectives about my story and I get practice in looking at my own work and other people’s work with a critical eye.

  5. Miriam Joy says:

    Ooh, now that you use Skype and I have a computer with a webcam that actually works (my laptop one broke a while back), we should try and find a time to Skype sometime. We’ll have to coordinate the timezones but it would be cool to talk in a semi face-to-face way after goodness knows how many years of comments and facebook chat and so on 🙂

    There are a few things on this list I’ve done but not in 2016 (like watch an LGBTQ movie in cinemas — I watched Pride in 2014 — or cut my hair short — which I first did in 2011 but keep on doing), some I sort of did (I happened to be in Exeter the weekend of Exeter Pride so I saw the parade and bought a flag and so on, but wasn’t actually a part of it, mostly because I am too disabled for parades and it would be too painful), and some I’ve never done. Though I’d kind of like to try some of them. Interesting to see your list! Reading it, I kept thinking, “wait, that was last year?” because some of them felt like they happened ages ago and some seemed really recent. I think if I came to write a list of my own, I’d struggle to remember exactly WHEN things were.

    I liked what you said about getting that C. We don’t do grades like that at uni in the UK and even if we did I’m sure I’d have got many Cs by now because I’ve spent the last two years barely keeping my head above water, but at school I went for a long time without ever failing anything or doing badly, except in small tests / quizzes. It wasn’t until GCSE Art when I managed to get an E in my year ten exam (37.5% and the lowest in my year group, oops) that I learned how to fail, although in my defence, I did that pretty spectacularly. Because yunno. If you’re gonna do badly, do REALLY badly. But learning to ask for help is so difficult when you’ve always been a high achiever, and it sounds like you’ve made progress with that both academically and in terms of mental health. Go you!

  6. Mahima says:

    FIRST OF ALL. You’ve been WATCHING ANIME?!?!?! You’ve watched OURAN?!
    Oh wow. Here’s to a whole year of anime recommendations from yours truly. First up! I recommend watching Bungo Stray Dogs (there’s two seasons, 12 eps long). The show merges both anime and literature by creating characters that represent iconic Japanese authors and the second season in particular features “The Guild” which is made of characters who represent iconic American authors WHICH BASICALLY MEANS THAT I THINK IT’S BLOODY AWESOME. Also, it has the best fight scene I’ve ever witnessed in my brief years with anime, and the dynamics of the story and its literary and historical contexts (especially when considering the relationship between the US and Japan in the past) is so cleverly commented upon. BUT ALSO IT’S PLAIN FUNNY AS HECK.
    Oh, and thank you for inspiring me with this post as well! I’m going to have to think about whether I’ve done anything new in 2016 but it’s a great way to reflect!
    (And also, congratulations on doing so many new things! Especially much, much kudos to you for seeking help with your mental health. You’re an inspiration to us all!).

    • nevillegirl says:

      YES YES I HAVE AND ALSO MY ROOMMATE HAS BEEN WATCHING BUNGO STRAY DOGS SO I’VE SEEN PARTS OF EPISODES HERE AND THERE. I must have seen bits and pieces of the second season, then, because F. Scott Fitzgerald was in it and that made me laugh because I was like Bridget what are you even watching?

      Ahhh, you’re welcome! *blushes* That makes me so happy to hear!

      Eee, thanks. 😀 That’s such a lovely thing to hear, especially because today has been… not so great mental-health-wise.

  7. Mark Foley says:

    I finally got around to reading the post. Thanks for the shout out! What a great year for you! I’d have to say that one upside to 2016 for me/us/lots of people is that we are trying new things and stretching ourselves. Also, how much actually happened this past year?! I feel like it was filled beyond what one year should have.

    Les Miserables is a great book, but it does take dedication and patience. I read the unabridged version years ago and at times felt like Hugo could have been merciful and spared me a few details about the Napoleonic Wars, the Paris sewer system, the structural integrity of the battlements during the Revolution, and a whole host of other items.

    I’m still deciding if the Cs I earned in college were positive things. Overall, yes. I learned that there are bigger things in life and all that other perspective-enhancing stuff. It still stings all these years later, but I’m a better person for those grades (I think).

    I’m hoping your 2017 is as exciting!

  8. Boquinha says:

    So on January 11th, I sent myself an email reminder that said, “NEVILLE GIRL BLOG POST.” Here I am, one day before the one-month anniversary of that email, now commenting on your blog. It’s taken me longer than I hoped, but I’m here!

    I wanted to comment because I loved this post so much! Look at this list!! It’s seriously such an impressive and varied list that hits on so many different areas of life. That’s a whole heck of a lot of growth in one year’s time! I like the perspective you offer here (like the part about getting a “C,” for example). How cool that it’s on this list! It’s like real life growth, perspective, and learning.

    And the authors you’ve met – WOW! And you got to caucus! That is so cool. (Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!) Also? I’m glad we got to Skype over Labor Day and I also am amazed at how much time has gone by and all that’s happened in that time. We probably all thought back then that there was no way Trump could get elected. Ah, the good, ol’ days. Remember those?

    Anyway, this is a seriously super cool post and I’m glad you wrote it and I’m glad I read it. It’s inspiring to see such a diverse list of accomplishments. For real.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ahaha, that’s OK! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on this! 🙂

      Thanks! Writing this list really allowed me to think about what I’d learned and how I’d changed as a person over the past year, which is always cool. 😀


  9. Pingback: 17 Things I Did In 2017 That I’d Never Done Before | Musings From Neville's Navel

What do you think? Share the musings from your navel!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s